Arts Diary

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The Independent Culture
STEPHEN DALDRY, director of the Royal Court, is continuing to impart spin to the English language. He's the chap, remember, who said he had not received extra lottery money; rather that it was "additional" money. This week, smarting perhaps from some of the criticism over the theatre's pounds 26m redevelopment and the arguable need for a restaurant under Sloane Square, he explained that it wasn't going to be a restaurant at all; it was a "bar with food."

AT LEAST it won't, at the time of writing, be called the Jerwood Bar with Food, though much else inside and outside the Court seems to be taking the name of its benefactor. But I gather that Jerwood's presence could have been stronger had it not been for a pincer attack over claret by the literary heavy mob. Jerwood was originally to have replaced the Royal Court name, rather than "just" have neon lights under it. However, Harold Pinter, Sir David Hare and Caryl Churchill took Jerwood's chief executive Alan Grieve out to dinner at Pinter's London club and made him an offer he couldn't refuse. Well, they told him he would face unremitting hostility in the world he was joining if he caused the Royal Court name to die, and that Jerwood should have its name only on the auditoria inside. A menacing pause from Pinter, a glare from Hare and Churchill and the battle was won. Give or take a neon light.

CHATTING WITH Nicole Kidman, right, (as one does) at the Evening Standard Theatre Awards lunch in a bar with food at the Savoy Hotel, I am told she wants to return to the London stage as quickly as possible and "would love to do one of the classics". Any theatrical institution in need of box office replenishment and a smoky green room (she does, I'm afraid) should make their approaches quickly.

The arts minister Alan Howarth, who used to teach at Westminster School, will have noticed some of his ex-pupils at the ceremony. I was seated next to one of them, Nigel Planer. He appeared in precious little drama at Westminster, he says, because one of Howarth's colleagues at the time wouldn't cast him or a friend of his despite repeated requests. The friend was Stephen Poliakoff, and the two rejects produced their plays independently. Let's hope the teacher in question carved a niche in dramatic history by telling the two wannabes that they would never amount to anything.

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